Candy’s pretty universally loved (unless you’re a weirdo), but everyone has their own preferences. While the United States mostly sticks to its chocolatey sweets, Latin America offers an overwhelming amount of varieties that incorporate ingredients that may seem atypical to some. So everyone may not appreciate sweet-and-spicy watermelon lollipops or sweetened corn powder, but for those who have eaten them their whole lives, they feel like their childhoods.
While it would take a lifetime to explore Latin America’s delicious and diverse sweets, here are six mouthwatering GIFs to help get you started:
Unlike the creepy clowns that have gone viral in recent months (or just creepy clowns in general), paleta payaso is the gift that keeps on giving. With a marshmallowy center, a chocolatey exterior, and gummy features, these paletas are basically three candies in one. Expect the outside to be slightly cracked or have a few bumps, but the clown shouldn’t frown – unlike the one this kid from Sonora came across earlier this year. (It’s all good though, the company behind paleta payaso made it up to him.)
Though gofio vaguely resembles sawdust, this treat has entertained many generations of Dominican and Puerto Rican children. With a mouthful of the powdery candy, kids attempt to say gofio/gofio fiao – though according to Lin-Manuel Miranda, they say fósforo – and more or less spit all the particles in their friends’ face. Gofio is sweetened corn powder served in a cone-shaped paper bag. Keep a water cup nearby because you’re mouth’s about to get hella dry.
Pelon Pelo Rico
If you thought Mexican candy’s flavor profile couldn’t get more complicated, then pelon pelo rico will blow your mind. This candy is simultaneously sweet, spicy, and salty. The tamarindo-flavored treat comes in what looks like a doll’s baby bottle. But once you pop the red top off, you push down and watch as the gooey red-orange candy oozes out in angel hair pasta-like strands.
Dulce de ajonjolí
If you don’t have a major sweet tooth, then dulce de ajonjolí might be for you. Enjoyed equally in DR and PR, these sesame seed candies have a hint of sweetness (either sugar or honey). But it’s the sesame seed that’s the hero here. This treat is eaten in Latin America, but also in Asia and the Middle East. Some variations of dulce de ajonjolí even include nuts.
Paleta de sandía
Mexican candy’s known for being both sweet and spicy, and paletas de sandía live up to that reputation. The sometimes red and green lollipops are wedge shaped. If they had a Sour Patch Kids-esque catchphrase, it would be: first they’re spicy, then they’re sweet.
A million times better than spaghetti (if you ask us), salsaghetti are spicy, gummy noodles that come with a sweet, hot tamarindo or chamoy sauce. Salsaghetti gives you double the kick, and basically the holy trifecta of Mexican candy goodness: sweet, spicy, and Tamarindo flavored.